Earlier this month, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration laid out the current spectrum landscape: what has been recently accomplished, what happening now and what is in the pipeline for potential sharing or allocation of spectrum for commercial use.
The first annual Report on the Status of Spectrum Repurposing found that most of the repurposing activities and mandates “focus on accommodating non-federal uses and have not directed the repurposing of spectrum to new federal uses; they … prioritize exclusive non-federal use over sharing.”
NTIA reports that about 5.9 gigahertz of spectrum has already been made available which could be used for 5G services, across low-, mid- and high-band spectrum. The agency said that another 7.25 gigahertz is “under active consideration or study” for potential 5G wireless use. Meanwhile, another 1,200 megahertz is being proposed for mid-to-high-band unlicensed use, mostly in the 6-7 GHz range.
Among the ongoing spectrum repurposing efforts related to terrestrial cellular and wireless broadband services:
-The 600 MHz auction may seem like ancient history, given T-Mobile US’ focus on deploying that spectrum, but the post-auction transition and spectrum re-packing are still ongoing.
-The Federal Communications Commission has a notice of proposed rulemaking underway to allow the reconfiguration of 900 MHz spectrum to support private broadband networks.
-Work has been ongoing since 2017 to study the federal band at 1300-1350 MHz to see if commercial use of between 30 to 50 megahertz could be worked out, by consolidating some federal uses of long-range radar and relocating them to another band. Studies are underway and expected to be complete by 2021, with a repurposing decision anticipated by early 2022 and an auction in mid-2024.
-At 1675-1680 MHz, the FCC has put forward two proposals for rules that would allow terrestrial mobile services to share the band with incumbent weather satellites. The most recent was in 2016. Objections have been raised about the impact on meteorological operations of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather-prediction capabilities, and NOAA is studying whether it can share the band, with results expected in March 2020.
-DISH Network told the FCC in 2015 that it planned to use its licenses in a five-megahertz, unpaired band at 2000-2020 MHz band for downlink operations. The FCC “is currently considering how best to accommodate fixed and mobile broadband services in this band,” NTIA said.
-The FCC has revamped the rules around the 2.5 GHz to support deployment of 5G services.
-NTIA has a “detailed sharing feasibility study” underway concerning 3450-3550 MHz, expected to be complete by March 2020.
-The Citizens Broadband Radio Service, which moved into Initial Commercial Deployment as of yesterday, implements a three-tiered spectrum sharing framework.
-Consideration is underway on adding a terrestrial mobile services option for spectrum at 3.7-4.2 GHz, the C Band used by commercial satellite operators. That spectrum has been the focus of particularly hot debate on how much spectrum should be re-allocated for terrestrial wireless use, and whether it should be sold via a private or public auction.
-On the high-band front, the FCC has already held two millimeter wave frequency auctions, with another to begin on December 10 for the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. NTIA said that it is working with the FCC to establish sharing rules for the lower 37 GHz band, and that “issues related to access to 26 GHz, 42 GHz, and 50 GHz bands remain under consideration.”
-NTIA noted that in addition to the work on specific bands, there is additional research underway that supporting repurposing efforts overall, under the auspices of the MOBILE NOW Act passed in 2018. That includes a study of opportunities for “increasing federal use of non-federal spectrum,” or bi-directional sharing; a study focused on incentives for federal agencies to increase their repurposing of federal spectrum so that more can be made available for commercial use; and the development of new rules to increase unlicensed use of guard bands.
Read the full report here.
The spectrum repurposing report is the most recent step taken as part of the Trump administration’s effort to develop a long-term national spectrum policy.
In recent remarks by Karen Dunn Kelly, deputy secretary of Commerce, at the Spectrum Policy Symposium, she said that the administration’s three goals for spectrum management include being a global 5G leader; supporting space commerce, including providing sufficient spectrum for satellite operations; and protecting spectrum resources used by government agencies, from the military to scientists and engineers.
She said that three overarching principals are guiding the administration’s approach to spectrum strategy: balancing the needs of all major stakeholders; thinking “long-term and comprehensively”; and being innovative and pioneering, which she said “requires us to think beyond the traditional model of one allocation for one licensee for one use.”
The post Key takeaways from NTIA’s first report on spectrum repurposing appeared first on RCR Wireless News.